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High blood pressure is a tricky condition. After all, it’s known as the silent killer for good reason. You can easily have dangerously elevated pressure and not even know it until it’s too late.
And, once you’re diagnosed, getting it under control is no picnic either.
Have you ever seen the list of side effect blood pressure medicines come with? Well, I have and it’s not pretty. Sexual dysfunction, headaches, nausea, vomiting, constipation, diarrhea, and dizziness are just a few of these drugs’ greatest hits.
And sometimes, even with medication, blood pressure can be resistant. Luckily, the results of a new study have shown a simple way you can get an edge over high blood pressure and experience nothing but natural goodness…
Now, it’s not new news that walnuts promote healthy blood pressure, but what is new is a discovery that seals this nut’s reputation as a unique health food…
The whole nut and nothing but the nut
Researchers at Penn State set out to examine the effects of replacing some of the saturated fats in participants’ diets with walnuts. And, the results were impressive…
They found that people who ate whole walnuts daily in combination with lower overall amounts of saturated fat had significantly lower central blood pressure. That’s a measurement of the pressure your blood flow puts on your organs and a good indication of heart disease risk.
The team assumed these effects were due to the fact that walnuts are rich in alpha-linolenic acid (ALA), a plant-based omega-3 that may positively affect blood pressure.
But, you know what they say about assumptions…
And, apparently so did the researchers which is why they didn’t end their study right there — they took it a step further.
They had study participants, who were between the ages of 30 and 65 and overweight or obese, follow the exact same diet for a period of two weeks — one that mimicked the standard America diet (SAD) with 12 percent of their calories from saturated fats. This was to put them all on a level playing field.
Then they switched them all to a diet which included less saturated fat, and then randomly assigned:
- Whole walnuts — for group #1.
- The same amount of ALA and polyunsaturated fatty acids found in walnuts (but from other a source other than walnuts) — for group #2
- Oleic acid (another fatty acid), partially substituted for the same amount of ALA found in walnuts, but again without any actual walnuts — for group #3.
The researchers found that while all three groups experienced positive effects on cardiovascular outcomes, group #1, who ate whole walnuts, experienced the greatest benefits — including lower central diastolic blood pressure.
“When participants ate whole walnuts, they saw greater benefits than when they consumed a diet with a similar fatty acid profile as walnuts without eating the nut itself,” said Dr. Penny Kris-Etherton, Distinguished Professor of Nutrition at Penn State.” So, it seems like there’s a little something extra in walnuts that are beneficial — maybe their bioactive compounds, maybe the fiber, maybe something else — that you don’t get in the fatty acids alone.”
Getting the most bang for your blood pressure
Dr. Kris-Etherton went on to recommend that in order to get the most bang out of your food buck (or for your blood pressure) to use walnuts as a regular substitute for the less healthy saturated fats.
You can further support healthy blood pressure levels using proven nutrients, like:
- Vitamin K2 – Promotes healthy blood flow and blood pressure, and is a powerhouse when it comes to reducing calcium deposits in your arteries and reducing stiffness.
- Pterostilbene –Helps block the creation of Angiotensin II – an enzyme that stiffens the walls of your blood vessels and triggers a hormone that increases the amounts of sodium and water retained by your body.
- Green tea extract – Rich in catechins that have been proven to reduce oxidative stress and soothe inflammation, supporting your heart health.
- Grape Seed Extract – Activates nitric oxide in the lining of your vessels to keep blood platelets from sticking together. It also helps to relax your arteries to promote healthy blood flow.
- High blood pressure medicines — MedlinePlus
- Walnuts may help lower blood pressure for those at risk of heart disease — EurekAlert!